Posts Tagged ‘india’

Rajasthan, where the best and the worst of India really collide.  One of the poorest states but with a long cultural heritage and some of India’s most popular tourist destinations.  But you spend half your time trying to fend off people wanting to sell you carpets or jewels or silver or something, and harassment of western women is not unheard of.

On the other hand there are beautiful palaces to visit, intricately carved Jain temples, the jantar mantar, Bundi fort to name a few.  And much, much more than I saw before I got out of the furness.  At the time though, I just couldn’t wait to leave. I don’t know if it was the heat or the hassle, or both, but being in the tourist trap that is Jaipur sent me over the edge.  The constant battle to get the driver to go where you want, the hassle from pretty much everybody outside a tourist attraction and all this at temperatures above 40c.  Nightmare.

There were some highlights though.  Watching Octopussy on a rooftop while drinking beer illegally in Udaipur, hanging out with a dog and a bunch of agressive macaques looking out over blue Bundi, or just the random religious festivals that appear overnight in town centres.

Go to Rajasthan, just wait till winter.  Or just look at my photos here

Read Full Post »

Indian Road Signs

Some of the crazy road signs that are posted on the roads of Ladakh.  There were a few more that I didn’t get to photo like – After whiskey, driving is risky!


This ones a little bit Kinky









A important warning about ‘overspeed’







A warning to all those eager Indian boys!








And another for all those budding pilots










And my personal favourite

Read Full Post »

Karnataka, the centre of the south and home to the abandoned city of Hampi, beautiful Mysore – of  Mysore Masala Dosa fame – and party town Bangalore.

check out some of my photos

Read Full Post »

One of the most culturally rich states in  India and home to the twin world heritage sites of Ellora and Ajanta – As well as the holy city of Nasik and the ‘Baby Taj’.

Begun in the 2nd century BC, Ajanta lay hidden by bush on the bend of a river for centuries before being rediscovered by Europeans.  Luckily the elaborately decorated interior was preserved and gives a unique insight into early Buddhist art.  As Buddhism declined, so did Ajanta, and the focus moved to Ellora where the huge rock-cut temples attest to the rise of resurgence of Hinduism and the popularity of Jainism.

Nasik is one of the holiest cities in India , and one of the few where you can achieve Moksha, or  liberation from the cycle of birth and death, by bathing in the holy ghats – Also used for more general bathing and for washing clothes.  I found it one of the friendliest cities in India – a nice break from the hassle of more touristy areas.

Anyway, here’s some photos

Read Full Post »

Well what a year it was -A wedding in Malaysia, five intense months in India, Climbing to 5416m in the Annapurnas in Nepal, temple hopping in Myanmar, insane Cambodia, and eating myself to death in Thailand – and of course the endless days of just having fun and only worring about where to go next.  In total we travelled around 40,000km or once round the earth at the equator.  Not bad for a year.

Sadly it’s back to normal life – for a while – here in Canada, but heres a few of my favourite things of the last 9 months.

Manali to Leh Road – What a journey.  The ultimate road trip.  One day I’ll do it on an Enfield – One day

Bagan – Possibly the most amazing man made landscape on earth.  Sadly it will never recieve the attention it needs – world heritage status – because of the political situation.

Annapurna – One of my proudest achievements, and not actually that hard – a little maybe.  Everybody should do this once.

Thai food 1 Thai food 2 – Thai food, I love it.

Kerala – The prettiest indian state or gods own country as the locals call it – and problably the easiest state to travel in also – and great for the history/nature buffs too.

Walking in the parvati – Endless days walking in pine clad hills in the brilliant sun, hot springs – ohh, and the local delicacy.

Alfonso Mangoes – Amazing, soft, juicy, sweet, delicate alfonsos.  The best fruit in the world.

So, see you all in the new year with a better, more interesting blog – hopefully.  Now all I need to do is to try and sort out the other 5000 odd photos I took in India etc. and put them up too.

Read Full Post »

Well that was India, a roller coaster ride of a country.  Every kind of cliche you could imagine walking the streets 24 hours a day.  A nation that sometimes seems like one big contradiction.  I’m not going to try and pretend that it was the best place I’ve ever been – or even top 5 – but one thing is for sure I’m going to miss the food.

So instead of writing a long article moaning about the many annoying aspects of India, I’m going to have a quick rundown of my 10 favourite things to eat.

Sorry no photos – all taken on my Iphone which is now dead

1. Dosa, Iddly, Vada

Well maybe you might say these are 3 separate items.  I say they are the holy trilogy of the mighty south Indian Brekkie.  Breakfast of champions as far as I’m concerned.  All three – the crispy dosa, the spongy metallic iddly and the spiced savory doughnut that is the vada – covered in spicy sambal and cooling coconut chutney – is the food I’ll miss most.  In fact I’m missing it since we left the last southern state, Karnataka.  Get them anywhere in south India, or around Tooting Broadway if that’s easier for you.

2. Dal Makhani

“The chieftain of the Dal race” as Robert burns might have called it.  Thick, dark and rich.  The one vegetarian dish that has the balls of and long cooked mutton curry.  An absolute classic.  Get it at any Punjabi Dhaba – I haven’t had a bad one yet.

3. Mangoes

What a feast, a smile lights up in me every time I think of the first 2 months in India eating – and drinking in numerous juices and lassi – the most amazing yellow flesh mangoes.  It culminated in our move up coast to Maharashtra where the famed golden fruit, the Alfonso, grow along the coast.  The best pieces of fruit that have entered my body. Get them in May and June wherever there are Indians.

4. Kovalam Fish

Fresh out the sea fish doesn’t really need much explaining to most people, but when the restaurant chefs are haggling over the fish while your having brunch, you know you’re in for a treat later – whole tuna coated with a local masala paste and wrapped in banana leaf to cook or tandoori swordfish in butter and garlic, this is the kind of thing that dreams are made of.  Get it in Kovalam.

5. Shami Kebabs

The most recent entry on this list, but moved up the charts pretty quickly.  Boiled mutton ground with chickpeas to form a kind of half humus, half pate mix made into little patties and fried.  So rich they blow your head clean off.  Get them in Tunday Kebab, Lucknow.

6. Keralan Thali

You can get a thali anywhere, but the real thali country is Kerala.  Sometimes 10 little dishes are served to you on a metal tray, or more traditionally a banana leaf.  Then you get unlimited top ups of most of the foods – although I rarely finish the meal to begin with, its amazing watching the locals munch down what sometimes must nearly be a kilo of cooked rice.  You might also be offered some local fish curry, which is always a nice option.  Get it in Kerala, obviously

7. Momos

Not exactly indian, but hit Himachal Pradesh and you’re in momo Land.  Mostly vegetarian, these two bite dumplings, served with a great spicy dip of dried chilli and mint, are great fast food.  My favourite were in Kasol but there’s nothing like making your own with the family, staying at Tsavo Guest house in Leh.

8. Cochin Roti Kebab

I’m not sure if this is a new thing.  I like to think of Arab traders bringing the shawarma style kebab from the middle east during trips trading for spices.  Anyway, take chicken shawarma, some pickled cucumber and carrot, mix and wrap up in a butter roti – that’s a south indian roti, not northern.  Absolute heaven.  You can feel the butter clogging your arteries, but the token pickle just cuts through enough to make it a prizewinner.  Get it in Cochin at someplace I can’t remember. I could take you there if that’s any help.

9. Pav Bhaji

My favourite Mumbai street food.  I didn’t know what it was all about at first.  Lots of people queuing up for a white bread roll and sauce.  how wrong I was.  Mixed veggies and tomatoes cooked down to a mush served with a soft buttered roll and another dollop of butter for good measure to work into the sauce.  Perfect street food.  Get it in Mumbai – anywhere else is just a poor imitation.

10. Delhi Kebabs

So many Kebabs, so many places.  I swear these meat rolls will be the death of me.  Delhi has to be India’s kebab central.  Grilled meats from vendors out on the street is the go, adding spicy mint chatni and onion to the rumali rotis that are so thin and tasty.

Read Full Post »


Personally I couldn’t stand Varanasi.  This might have been because of the thick cow shit spread over every piece of ground or it might have been because when there I contracted a virus that gave me a fever and an all over rash.  However most people rave about this place and cant wait to go down to watch someones carcass burn on an open fire, somehow feeling spiritual.  And to all you twats that kept telling me its the oldest city in the world, its Damascus, not Varanasi.

Anyway here’s some photos

The burning ghats, Varanasi’s main attraction.


The biggest Bull I have ever seen, on one of varanasi’s cleaner streets – Honestly!

Some more ghat action

Read Full Post »

Lucknow Zoo

Or rather the train station.  In india there’s lots of places with animals roaming the streets. But Lucknow takes the prize for most wildlife.  There are cows everywhere.  An article in the Indian times about the problem was in the paper the day we left.  Apparently there are 200 dairies inside the city limits.  And once a cow is past its milking years they just abandon it to the streets.

Obviously there are the obligatory monkey troops and packs of dogs roaming around too. and this is only the train station. 

Read Full Post »

Andrea and I were watching Kill Bill vol.2 on the Laptop when the rain started. A little drip was coming through the roof. No problem, doesn’t rain here much. Then another few more drips, then the rain started pounding on the door and windows. Then water started pouring in through the roof. We crammed all our stuff into the cupboards and drawers in the room to stop the rain getting in and ran downstairs to take cover with the family who own the guesthouse. They were distraught to say the least. The grandfather was outside wailing in the rain that was literally washing the house away. People were in the streets screaming – at over 60 years old, the grandfather said he had never seen rain like this in his life.

It was over in 40 minutes. Anywhere else in India it would have been a mild rain shower, but in Ladakh where only 10cm of rain falls a year it was a catastrophe. Looking at the house it was like someone had sprayed it with machine gun fire. But in Changspa we’d really missed the brunt of it.

When some of the guys came back from town telling us about the carnage I was a bit sceptical. How could a little rain do so much damage, but when I walked down to take a look I couldn’t believe it. A whole area of the town crushed under a huge landslide and just washed down the hill. The mud brick houses just turned back to mud and all the people sleeping in their houses were killed. I couldn’t believe we were so lucky.

Later our guesthouse owner came to get us for help – Big water coming, we ran outside to find a multinational effort to build a damn on Changspa road to stop the river flooding into all our guesthouses. All of us, a hundred western backpackers and our Ladakhi hosts carrying rocks and filling sandbags. In the end the river receded taking with it half a road, some small bridges and numerous trees.

The next night it rained again hampering rescue efforts even more and really freaking people out. Westerners and Indian migrant workers were besieging the Airport and Army airport respectively to get out of the region. Everything got cut off – the two roads into Leh, electricity, phones, mobile networks, radio stations. Nobody had any real information – leading to so many stories going around about the roads and the extra planes being put on by the airlines.

It was Chaos. We booked a flight out for a weeks time and got to Delhi, where I’m writing this. It wasn’t because we were scared we left. It just felt as if the heart had been ripped out of Leh. The teaming streets we saw on our first night had become a ghost town and after three weeks I felt it was time to go.

Ladakh is one of the most fascinating, beautiful and welcoming places to visit and I have no doubt soon enough they will have it scrubbed up as good as new. But maybe this is something that needs to be considered when they go about rebuilding the houses.

Read Full Post »

A good Philosophy

Read Full Post »

Older Posts »